FIL-AUSSIE. Filipino-Australian Jason Kubler (right) and Rinky Hijikata pose with the men’s doubles trophy they won in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Saturday night (Jan. 28, 2023). They defeated Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski, 6-4, 7-6 (4). (AP photo shared by the POC)

MANILA – Filipino-Australian Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata clinched the men’s doubles title of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Saturday, a feat Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said should make Filipinos proud.

“It’s something that we Filipinos—and the POC—should be proud of and cherish,” Tolentino said of the 29-year-old Kubler, son of a Philippine-born mother and an Australian father.

“We know that a part of him is Filipino and Jason showed that to the world,” Tolentino said in a news release on Sunday.

“We’re really proud of him for winning a grand slam title not only for Australians but also for his fellow Filipinos.”

The pair, playing for Australia, defeated Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski, 6-4, 7-6 (4), in the final at the Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night.

It was the first Grand Slam title for both Hijikata and Kubler—the third Australian team to win a men’s doubles title in the last five Grand Slams. They teamed up for the first time.

Kubler turned professional in 2008 but couldn’t pounce on a promising career because of a knee injury that forced him to play exclusively on clay.

Tolentino likened Kubler to Filipino-Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez, who made the final of the US Open final in 2021 as an 18-year-old. (PNA)